Picking technique all wrong?

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DeeTeeDeeTee Frets: 224
Hey all. I've just got back to playing after way too long away from it. I've noticed that my tone is pretty poor compared to friends. I don't think the issue is gear, and I'm pretty sure it's something I'm doing. I'll explain:

My tone is really twangy. Not bright like a good tele, but honestly a slightly "boingy" sound. It sounds that way whatever amp I'm playing through, and it's really putting me off playing more. I play a Godin Exit 22, with an Iron Gear Hot Slag*. Mahogany body, Gibson scale, so should be quite dark. I use quite thick picks, as I started off playing metal.

I feel like the issue is the way I pick. Perhaps I dig in a little too much, and flick the string away from myself, creating that twang? Any ideas or tips gratefully received.


*Good lord, I don't like typing that name.
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Comments

  • bluechargeboybluechargeboy Frets: 1239
    Well, does your tone get better when you don't pick hard? Is it better on a different guitar? What if you use a thinner plectrum or different plectrum material? What if you go up a string gauge? Are you picking noticeably nearer the bridge or neck than other people? Are you all tensed up when you play? All of these things can be adjusted.

    FWIW I am a poor picker, I hold the plectrum in two fingers and thumb. I gave myself tendonitis in my elbow from gripping the plectrum too hard on my acoustic guitar, to "dig in" and get louder more aggressive tones. I had to learn to not do that!

    My band: Hedge Gods
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  • stickyfiddlestickyfiddle Frets: 8721
    Try without a pick - just your fingers. If it doesn't sound boingy, then try thinner picks and digging in less and plucking less hard. 

     
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  • DeeTeeDeeTee Frets: 224
    As I'm coming back from a break, I'm going to use this as a chance to reboot my playing completely. Change the grip on the pick, use a more economical motion, try and use just enough force for the note to sound and no more.

    I'm also going to try and change my fretting hand grip, as I am pretty sure I do something similar to the death grip. 
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  • mixolydmixolyd Frets: 330
    DeeTee said:
    As I'm coming back from a break, I'm going to use this as a chance to reboot my playing completely. Change the grip on the pick, use a more economical motion, try and use just enough force for the note to sound and no more.

    I'm also going to try and change my fretting hand grip, as I am pretty sure I do something similar to the death grip. 
    Look up Troy Grady’s stuff on YouTube: he’s the picking hand guru with in depth videos of lots of great players.
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  • bingefellerbingefeller Frets: 5390
    Post a "down the neck" video of you playing, like this angle:


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  • Matt_McGMatt_McG Frets: 42
    Do you usually practice unplugged? Try not doing that.

    My plugged in tone really improved after I made a concerted effort to always practice plugged in. I had similar issues. I was used to picked very hard on acoustic (gypsy style) and had some of the same technique on electric, and the translated into a tone that sounds quite similar to what you describe. Plugged in a lot (I almost never play at all now unplugged), and my tone sorted itself out pretty quickly. I can still dig in when I want to, but my control over the picked note sound is much better.
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  • DeeTeeDeeTee Frets: 224
    @mixolyd - Thanks, will do! @Matt_McG - that definitely sounds like me, and probably how it happened. I was always mortally embarassed if someone could hear me playing, so I just didn't plug in.

    @bingefeller - That's a good idea, but as mentioned above: I'm so embarassed to play in front of people that I don't, so the chances of me filming it and putting it on the internet are pretty slim!
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  • bingefellerbingefeller Frets: 5390
    DeeTee said:
    @mixolyd - Thanks, will do! @Matt_McG - that definitely sounds like me, and probably how it happened. I was always mortally embarassed if someone could hear me playing, so I just didn't plug in.

    @bingefeller - That's a good idea, but as mentioned above: I'm so embarassed to play in front of people that I don't, so the chances of me filming it and putting it on the internet are pretty slim!
    It's hard to tell in this case.  If it's not your picking technique the only thing I could think of is would but if your action is quite low and maybe that's causing some fret buzzing and twanging issues?  
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  • BarneyBarney Frets: 336
    edited April 2
    What size pick are you using ...have  you tried heavy iff using light ? .
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  • DeeTeeDeeTee Frets: 224
    Barney said:
    What size pick are you using ...have  you tried heavy iff using light ? .
    I've just moved to a .88mm tortex.

    DeeTee said:
    @mixolyd - Thanks, will do! @Matt_McG - that definitely sounds like me, and probably how it happened. I was always mortally embarassed if someone could hear me playing, so I just didn't plug in.

    @bingefeller - That's a good idea, but as mentioned above: I'm so embarassed to play in front of people that I don't, so the chances of me filming it and putting it on the internet are pretty slim!
    It's hard to tell in this case.  If it's not your picking technique the only thing I could think of is would but if your action is quite low and maybe that's causing some fret buzzing and twanging issues?  
    I'm pretty certain it's the technique, as I notice it on other guitars too.
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  • pintspillerpintspiller Frets: 436
    Get a couple of different grey nylon Dunlop picks. Say from .6x right up to 1mm. You will be surprised by the amount of "give" and how much if affects your playing.
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  • robertyroberty Frets: 180
    edited April 4
    This video really helped me (Guthrie Govan picking lesson):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51OMFYGG-fs

    As well as the Troy Grady stuff that's already been mentioned.  Pickslanting is definitely something to be aware of but I wouldn't get too bogged down in it

    +1 for always practicing plugged in as you'll find yourself playing softer with an amplified sound

    I changed my technique about 18 months ago and it's coming together now.  Definitely worth getting it right
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  • BranshenBranshen Frets: 783
    DeeTee said:
    @bingefeller - That's a good idea, but as mentioned above: I'm so embarassed to play in front of people that I don't, so the chances of me filming it and putting it on the internet are pretty slim!
    You're asking us to critique and help you with your technique but you won't let us see your technique. A slightly "boingy" sound doesn't sound too undesirable, but I can't visualise what you're doing wrong based on the descriptions you're giving.

    You can upload to YouTube and have it categorised as unlisted, so that it won't be searchable to the whole wide world, and you would be able to link it here, so we can have a look. No one here will laugh I'm sure, we're all still learning after all.

    The death grip you mentioned is however something that can be easily critiqued. You want to fret as lightly as possible and only press down on the strings hard enough to get a clear note. That way, you're being as efficient as possible with your strength, and your sound will naturally improve because you're more relaxed. 
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  • bingefellerbingefeller Frets: 5390
    roberty said:

    As well as the Troy Grady stuff that's already been mentioned.  Pickslanting is definitely something to be aware of but I wouldn't get too bogged down in it

    I would disagree with this.  Working out what way you pick is essential in becoming a smoother and faster player. 


    Branshen said:
    DeeTee said:
    @bingefeller - That's a good idea, but as mentioned above: I'm so embarassed to play in front of people that I don't, so the chances of me filming it and putting it on the internet are pretty slim!
    You're asking us to critique and help you with your technique but you won't let us see your technique. A slightly "boingy" sound doesn't sound too undesirable, but I can't visualise what you're doing wrong based on the descriptions you're giving.

    You can upload to YouTube and have it categorised as unlisted, so that it won't be searchable to the whole wide world, and you would be able to link it here, so we can have a look. No one here will laugh I'm sure, we're all still learning after all.

    The death grip you mentioned is however something that can be easily critiqued. You want to fret as lightly as possible and only press down on the strings hard enough to get a clear note. That way, you're being as efficient as possible with your strength, and your sound will naturally improve because you're more relaxed. 

    Absolutely! Without a video, @DeeTee, no one is going to be able to offer you much advice as it's nearly impossible to know what the cause of your picking problem is - even if it is a picking problem.  It could be a simple set up problem on your guitar, something to do with string gauges, worn frets etc. 
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  • DeeTeeDeeTee Frets: 224
    Fair points. I'm incredibly nervous about playing publicly, but if I'm asking for help, I need to front up!  I'll see if I can get something done this weekend. 

    I was playing a bit last night, and I think I've fixed some of it. The death grip is much improved, but if I slide up the neck, that thumb starts to creep up again. I'm finding that I don't use as much pressure to fret the notes when I'm gripping properly though, so that's good. The picking is a bit more gentle, and some of that springy sound has gone. It's definitely technique, as I was really digging "through" the string, rather than plucking it just enough for the note to sound.

    It's like starting all over again, but it feels like it'll be worth it, and I'm enjoying playing more. Thanks for all the tips guys.
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  • sweepysweepy Frets: 1563
    There are some incredibly well known guitarists with horrendous picking technique, don't let it stop you playing music
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  • DeeTeeDeeTee Frets: 224
    Absolutely, some great players do everything "wrong" and it's helped them form their own sound. For me though, it's making a sound I don't like and getting in the way of my enjoyment. 
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  • robgilmorobgilmo Frets: 941
    Dude don't be afraid to play in front of people or be afraid to let people hear you, this can effect yiour playing as well , always trying to play quietly, in fact that could have a very bad effect on your playing, you need to let it out, not keep it in, and you are learning so you have nothing to be ashamed of, if anything you should be proud of your self for getting stuck in.

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  • DeeTeeDeeTee Frets: 224
    I think I've sorted this. I tried filming it, but I couldn't get an angle where you could see what on earth was happening.

    I watched a couple of friends and the videos you all pointed me to. I was definitely playing with too much pick, and pushing through the string, making an odd banjo sound. Probably a result of playing for ages without plugging in. 

    So I forced myself to play with a jazz pick. Now there's only enough plastic for a very economical picking motion. It'll take me a while to get used to, but it's better. I can now play a few things that I couldn't play before. 
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  • I would suggest going back to basics and starting with picking 1 string open and down and up and just focus on the tone and clarity.. even if you are an advanced player. There are great benefits with going back to basics now and again. :)
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